Francesca Sternberg Awarded 2019 British Equestrian Federation Medal of Honour

For immediate release – December 20, 2019 – Oklahoma City, OK –The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is proud to congratulate longtime reiner Francesca Sternberg for being awarded the British Equestrian Federation Medal of Honour today at the Olympia International Horse Show in London. One of the highest accolades given by the British Equestrian Federation, the award recognizes Sternberg’s passion for equestrian sports in the United Kingdom and her achievements in the sport of reining.

“I would never have imagined the British Equestrian Federation would recognize a reiner,” Sternberg shared. “In the UK, we’re highly traditional—everything is eventing, show jumping, and dressage. To be recognized by my peers in my own country is quite overwhelming.”

Originally competing in top-level eventing and show jumping, Sternberg first became an NRHA member in 1995. Since then, she’s earned more than $418,500 in NRHA Lifetime Earnings (LTE) and experienced success at the highest levels, competing at five FEI World Equestrian Games and making numerous trips to the AQHA World Championship Show, NRHA Futurity, and NRHA Derby in Oklahoma City.

“The reining horse has taken me to places I would never have gone and allowed me to meet people I would never have met,” Sternberg revealed. “Although the accomplishments in the arena are hugely important, it’s not really all about that. It’s about the journey and the incredible experiences en route.”

In light of this latest honor, Sternberg credits the family she’s found within the sport of reining for helping her achieve such success.

“The heart of NRHA is a combination of the horse and the community,” Sternberg continued. “I haven’t found that in any other equestrian group. Everybody can be competitive, or just enjoy the ride. It’s a team effort.”

Sternberg’s two children, Tabitha Sternberg Allen and George Sternberg Allen, both share their mother’s passion for reining.

“I see the future containing exactly what the past has, but the difference is, I won’t be sitting in the saddle as much,” Sternberg laughed. “I’ve been beaten by both of my children in the past few months, and that was far better than anything I could win.”

Horsewoman of the Year Award Renamed to Honor Becky Hanson

For immediate release — December 10, 2019 — Oklahoma City — The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) is pleased to announce that the Horsewoman of the Year award has been renamed to honor NRHA Professional Becky Hanson, past NRHA board member and professional from Clements, Calif.

“Becky exemplifies what we look for in the Horsewoman of the Year award,” said Shane Brown, NRHA Professional and Executive Committee member. “We feel like it sets a good example to continue the award in her name.”

The newly dedicated Becky Hanson Professional Horsewoman of the Year award will be voted on by NRHA Professionals and announced with the other Professional of the Year awards at the NRHA Awards Banquet in June. Becky is known for her incredible photos of the Western lifestyle, horsemanship, her philanthropic heart, witty humor, and constant willingness to lend a hand wherever it is needed.

“Becky is always willing to help out and volunteer, no matter where she’s needed, from coaching to tasks at the barn, and from the affiliate level to a national level; she is always willing to help everyone around her,” Brown said.

Before stepping away from training horses herself, Becky had spent five years training reining horses in Italy, made multiple NRHA Derby finals, earned North American Affiliate titles and major event titles across the country, and coached endless non professionals to victory. Now her support is never far from her husband, NRHA Professional David Hanson who still trains and competes.

“She did it all, from sending entries to working with clients and helping find good horses and making their local affiliate run,” Brown shared. “There was not one part of this business that she didn’t have her hand in, one way or another.”

In naming this award in her honor, the Professionals Committee hopes she will serve as a continuous reminder about what it means to be named Horsewoman of the Year.

“She’s been an inspiration to people in this industry at all levels,” said Patrick Flaherty, NRHA Professionals Committee Chair. “She’s a huge influence, and I strongly believe her affiliate is successful today because of what she put into it. She and David set up an incredible business because of how they complemented each other. Their support was pivotal to their business and our industry.”

Becky exemplifies what it means to be an NRHA Professional through her tenacity, morals, philanthropic heart, and the way she has continuously poured into every aspect of the reining industry for so many years. She has spent her life working to promote and grow the sport of reining through world-wide and local affiliate efforts, as well as serving on the NRHA Board and multiple committees.

“We all wish the Professional of the Year awards existed when she was actively training and showing horses because she would have won it five years in a row,” Flaherty said. “Now that the professionals have come up with this award program, we want to be sure it pays homage to her, and this felt like the perfect way to do it.”

Cade McCutcheon and Super Marioo Claim Level 4 Open Championship

Ten days of intense, world-class competition culminated Saturday, Dec. 7, with the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity Open Finals. The NRHA Futurity, held at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City, featured top horses and riders from across the globe.

When the curtain fell as the final horse left the arena, it was 19-year-old Cade McCutcheon who emerged victorious, not only winning the Level 4 Championship but also tying for the Reserve title.

It’s been a banner year for Cade McCutcheon, who turned in his non pro card in January to become an NRHA Professional. Prior to the NRHA Futurity, he had won more than $706,616 in lifetime earnings, not including the $307,500 he won in August at the inaugural Run for a Million event.

Still, he wasn’t counting on winning the Level 4 Open Championship at the NRHA Futurity. “I didn’t expect to win it my first time here as a professional, but that’s everyone’s goal,” he said.

McCutcheon had three shots at finishing in the top spot of the Level 4: Deja Vu With A Gun, Super Marioo, and Guns And Dynamite. He competed first on Deja Vu With A Gun (owned by David Silva), marking a 212.5.

Next up was Super Marioo, and the pair scored a 224.5. “I ran in and hit my first stop. I got turned big, and before I loped off, I thought to myself, ‘Just make sure you lope off on the correct lead. Don’t screw it up,’” he recalled. “That horse was there for me the whole way. There are a couple things that could have been better, but overall, what can I say?”

Just five horses later, NRHA Six Million Dollar Rider Shawn Flarida entered the arena on the 2018 NRHA Markel Insurance Prospect Sale high seller Shine Colt Shine. With gracefully executed circles and powerful stops, it looked like McCutcheon’s lead could be in jeopardy. When the score was announced, Flarida and Shine Colt Shine fell just short with a 223.5.

Competing in the third from last set, McCutcheon rode Guns And Dynamite. The 19-year-old trainer piloted the colt through another great run, resulting in a 223.5, tying Flarida for second.

After that, McCutcheon couldn’t have told you how the last seven horses scored, but he could have given you an update on college football. “I went to the bus and was watching Wisconsin vs. Ohio State and doing my best not to pay attention to it. I was just waiting for my mom to call me,” he admitted.

Unbeknownst to him, his scores held, and McCutcheon won not only the Level 4 with Super Marioo, but also Levels 3 and 2, for $196,175 in earnings. Super Marioo’s nominator, Hillis Akin Family Partnership received $9,808.

McCutcheon also tied for Reserve in the Level 4 on Guns And Dynamite, and took sole possession of the title in Levels 3 and 2. Combined with his earnings on Deja Vu With A Gun, McCutcheon’s winnings for the evening came to $341,899. That unofficially pushed him to NRHA Million Dollar Rider status.

Super Marioo, owned by Story Book Stables, is by Gunnatrahya out of HA Chic A Tune. McCutcheon began riding the colt in early fall when he was purchased from Gunny Mathison by Freddy Brassfield. “Gunny sold me this horse this summer. He did a phenomenal job training him, and I just had to pick him up and do some of my things. Without Gunny, this never would have happened,” McCutcheon said.

Shortly after McCutcheon showed the colt at the Best of the West Futurity, he received a phone call from Brenda Joyce, owner of Story Book Stables. “She said she wanted to have a horse with me and asked about Super Marioo. She bought him from Freddy, and has been amazing to work with ever since,” he said. “This is the first horse I’ve had with her, and I’m really excited for the future, whatever she decides to do.”

McCutcheon and Kirstin Booth’s Guns And Dynamite, by Gunners Special Nite out of Chic Olena Starbuck, won a total of $145,724 across the three levels. Nominator Turnabout Farms received $7,286.

“I thank my parents and grandparents for doing whatever it takes to make me as good as I can be,” he said. “There are hundreds of people who played into this, and I’m lucky I had the right horse to win tonight.”

Flarida and Shine Colt Shine pocketed a check for $110,752 for the Level 4 Open Reserve title, with nominator Sally Amabile receiving $5,637. The Shine Chic Shine colt, out of Gunners Miss Oak, lived up to the high expectations of being the 2018 Markel Insurance Prospect Sale high seller. The colt is owned by Gaynia Revenberg.

Jacob Ballard and Flashin Benjamins Win Level 1 Open Championship

On October 6, Jacob Ballard took Flashin Benjamins into his training program. He was familiar with the horse, who he started as a 2-year-old, but the stallion had spent the last year-and-a-half with Kole Price. The pair only had two months to sync back up before the NRHA Futurity, but Ballard rose to the challenge, and the duo scored a 218 to win the Level 1 Open, and place in Levels 3 and 2.

“I’ve dreamed about being in the finals of the [NRHA] Futurity forever, and to pick off the Level 1 was pretty exciting,” said Ballard, who is 26 years old. “I can’t describe it.” Prior to running pattern 10, Ballard said he knew if he could execute the run-in, stop, and back-up well, everything else would fall into place. The horse didn’t let him down, turning even better under the bright lights than he did in the warm-up arena.

“After I loped off [from my turns], I knew that he was locked in and I could go and push him in his circles,” Ballard said. “By the time I got done with my second lead change, I knew I was home free. All I had to do was turn the corner and go stop him. He just killed the ground like he does every time.”

Ballard, who apprenticed under Price before going out on his own at the beginning of 2019, said it was a testament to Price’s program that he was able to click with the horse so quickly. Since he only had two months before the NRHA Futurity, he knew he needed to make every ride count. Schooling at his local college gave him a place to practice in a show setting, which he thinks gave him an advantage.

Flashin Benjamins (Gunnatrashya x Shiners Hot Flash) was owned by Leann Spurlock at the time of the NRHA Futurity and was nominated by Nicole Miller. Ballard said the horse’s owners have been very involved, which he respected and appreciated.

“You can’t get to where I am without having good owners,” he said. “Everyone wants to talk about the horse and other factors, but the owners are a huge part of it.” The stallion may be moving on to new things, as his owners received an offer on him at the NRHA Futurity. Ballard has some other prospects waiting in the wings, but he won’t forget the colt he started and then rode to an NRHA Futurity L1 Open Championship.

“I remember stopping him when he first got sliders on, and he stopped really smooth — about 10, 12 feet,” he said. “He has that same effect, only now he does it with 25 feet. He hasn’t changed a whole lot as far as talent goes, just a lot of the buttons are different and more progressed.

“It’s been a long road of ups and downs, but I’m thankful for all of it,” he added. “I wasn’t sure it was the best move in January [to go out on my own], but God is on my side as far as the events and people he’s put in my life to get me where I am.”

The Level 1 Reserve Championship was won by Josh Tishman and Lanas Lil Joe, by Lil Joe Cash and out of Elanachics. Lanas Lil Joe is owned by Steve Carr and was nominated by Rainbow Ridge Equestrian.

Martin Larcombe Wins Prime Time Open on Shines Like Spook

It didn’t take much convincing when Rosanne Sternberg, and NRHA Million Dollar Owner,* asked Martin Larcombe to ride Shines Like A Spook. The royally bred colt is by NRHA Six Million Dollar Sire Smart Spook and out of Ebony Shines, who recently became one of two NRHA Million Dollar Dams. “Rosanne bred this horse, and owns both the sire and the dam, so this is a pretty good promotion for her brand. You can imagine in April when she said she had this colt that it didn’t take much to get me to try him,” Larcombe said with a laugh.

Larcombe and Shines Like Spook qualified for the Level 4 and 3 Open Finals, as well as the Prime Time. Their score of 220 equated to good checks in the Level 4 and 3, and the win in the Prime Time. All totaled, the pair took home $42,672 in finals cash. “I’ve taken him to a couple pre-futurities, and he’s been respectable. I know he has a lot of ability and a lot of stop. I think he will mature a bit more and get more solid as a show horse,” Larcombe shared. “Even saying that, I can’t complain about how good he’s been this week. He has stepped up all week. He’s going to be a show horse.”

Sternberg and Larcombe have a long history together. They got to know each other when Larcombe was training reiners in Europe, and the relationship continued when his family moved to the United States. “I thank Rosanne. She’s had horses with me the past few years and has been a great customer. I also thank my crew, which is basically my family,” he said. “I also thank my great customers who support me.”

Larcombe went one-two in the Prime Time, taking Reserve on One Sensationaldream, owned by Neylon Performance Horses LLC. The pair marked a 217.5, worth $11,410, with nominator Kathy Bagnell receiving $498. One Sensationaldream is by Magnum Chic Dream and out of Dun Up Sensational.

*During the Level 4 Open Finals, Rosanne Sternberg unofficially became an NRHA Two Million Dollar Owner. Rosanne is only the second owner to reach this milestone, following Arcese Quarter Horses that reached the Two Million Dollar mark in 2012.

Xtra Half N Half Tops NRHA/Markel Marketplace Sale

On December 7 during the 2019 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity and Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships, 56 horses walked through the ring at the NRHA/Markel Marketplace Sale. As Xtra Half N Half strode into the sale arena, bidders sat up and took notice.

The handsome 2018 sorrel colt (Shiners Voodoo Dr x Cremes Chic Olena x Smart Chic Olena) brought a final bid of $64,000 from Jimmy Nichols, of Templeton, California, making him the highest seller of the day. Consigned by Heritage Farms, he is a half-brother to the earners of more than $250,000. Xtra Half N Half is enrolled in the NRHA Nomination Program and the National Reining Breeders Classic (NRBC).

“We just liked the way he’s bred, the way he’s made. He’s so pretty-headed,” Nichols said. “Watching him in his video, he’s just really physical, but he seems really quiet-minded.”

Nichols planned to send the colt to Mathieu Buton for training.

Nichols and his wife, Nancy, also purchased the second-highest-seller Lil Whizin Inferno (Inferno Sixty Six x Miss Jacspins Whiz x Conquistador Whiz), a 2018 red dun filly who was consigned by Terry and Warnetta Martin. Nichols said he saw the same characteristics in her that interested him in Xtra Half N Half.

“She’s not very big, but she’s so physical,” he added. “We’re going to take her home, and I’ll ride her myself and get her ready. I’ve shown in the Open all my life and trained there in California, and we’ve had our own now for five or six years. I’m actually considering going back and doing the non-pro with her.”

Lil Whizin Inferno was in training with Josh Visser for 60 days at the time of the sale. She is five panel negative and enrolled in the NRHA Nomination Program, NRHA Euro Nomination Program, and NRBC.

The gavel fell at $31,000 for Heritage Farms/Parker Slavin Performance Horses consignment HF A Winforthechics, a 2018 buckskin filly. Purchased by Gabriel de la Torre, the mare (HF Mobster x Win Smart Chicy x Smart Chic Olena) is a half-sister to National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) money-earner and American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) point-earner Duallers Smart Chic.

HF A Winforthechics is enrolled in the NRHA Nomination Program and NRBC.

The NRHA/Markel Marketplace Sale wrapped up the NRHA Futurity Sales. Complete results can be found online at

McKinnon Larcombe Claims Second Adequan® NAAC Title on Designed With Shine

The Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships, held during the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Futurity, culminated Saturday afternoon with the Youth 14-18 competition.

McKinnon Larcombe and Designed With Shine capped off a stellar week with yet another Adequan® NAAC title in the Youth 14 – 18, after winning both the Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro earlier this week.

In Saturday’s competition, the pair marked a 220, winning a saddle from Bob’s Custom Saddles, a Montana Silversmiths buckle, an Adequan® vest, a Platinum Performance jacket, product from Classic Equine, and gift certificates to Bluebonnet Feed and SmartPak.

“I went in today with the mentality that I didn’t need to run her as hard as I did the other day for the Non Pro. She was so good for me then, she didn’t have to do anything more for me to make me happy, but she went in there and did it once again,” Larcombe said. “She was perfect. She turned remarkably well for me, circled like she always does, and ran and stopped really well. I was so happy with her.”

Designed With Shine, by Smart And Shiney out of Taris Designer Genes, is owned by McKinnon’s aunt Shauna Larcombe. “When I rode her the first time, I told my aunt I could easily take her into the show pen the next day. She’s so well-trained and easy to get along with, but I never imagined we would be this successful. I never thought in a million years I would have a horse like this to show. I’m very lucky,” she said.

Winning an Adequan® NAAC title has been a goal of Larcombe’s for many years. “There are some incredibly great horses in these classes, and you have to bring your A-game when you walk in the pen. There are great sponsors that make it possible for you to compete for saddles and big trophies, not to mention all the other fantastic prizes you can win,” she said. “It’s exciting because you know you have something to run for.”

Larcombe shared how thankful she was to her great family and friends who support her. “Thank you to my auntie Shaua. Without her, I wouldn’t be mounted on such a good horse. I thank my parents who pay for this hobby which is not cheap. My dad is a great coach who helps me every day. I thank everyone at the barn from Team Larcombe and Sterling Ranch. I thank my great friends. It takes a crew and there are too many people to name, but I’m appreciative of all of them,” she said.

Taking second in the Adequan® NAAC Youth 14 – 18 with a 213.5 was Raeanna Thayn and Coded N Karma (Electric Code x Whiz N Snap). They won an Adequan® vest, a Platinum Performance jacket, a Montana Silversmiths buckle, product from Classic Equine and SmartPak, and gift certificates to Platinum Performance and Bluebonnet Feed.

Reserve in the ancillary Youth 14 – 18 was won by Alexia Tordoff and Blue Collar Tag with a 218. Blue Collar Tag is by Whiz N Tag Chex and out of Kachina Oak Olena.